Posts tagged PITL

120 Seconds in a BMW 325

Yes that is 325 without the i. This year’s shootout car, the car that the points tied drivers drive to determine the winner, was a E30 BMW 325.

The owner warming the car up for us.

The owner warming the car up for us.

Since I was going second, my fellow shootout driver staged the car for me. That meant I couldn’t even try the brakes before the first corner. This truly was a blind drive.

Getting comfortable.

Getting comfortable.

Wow! Fun car! The stock (and probably somewhat tired) suspension meant that there was much body roll. Which I’m more than used too. All season tires meant there was little grip. Which I love. The controls seemed to work very well, apart from the hilariously loose shift linkage. Heel and toe was very easy. Having never spent much time with a floor mounted throttle, I didn’t think it would be as easy as it was. However, the throttle was far more sensitive than the one in my car. Or maybe I wasn’t used to the extra powah.

Speeding to the stop box. (Thanks to Lucas for the pic!)

Speeding to the stop box. (Thanks to Lucas for the pic!)

Even though my competitor was unable to match my first lap time. I was granted a victory lap. And being more familiar the car, I was much faster. Even sliding, countersteering, and downshifting into the first hairpin. At one point I pushed a bit to hard into a corner losing some speed. The run didn’t feel that much faster than the first one, so I decided to throw some time away and powerslide a medium speed left hander. I could hear the crowd cheer from the open window.

I got some cheers for this!

I got some cheers for this!

E30s are those cars that you often see racing. At track days. At autocross. Even rallying. I knew they were good cars. And after driving this very modest example, I was sold. Sweet car! This car bring RWD and all, was a far better match to me. Racing last years FWD shootout car didn’t feel nearly as natural as this year’s shootout car.

Champion! (Check out that hair!)

Champion! (Check out that hair!)

Big thanks to the competitor that offered up their own ride and tell us to really go for it.


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that day head over here.

Yup. I totally did it again. (Thanks for the pic Lucas!)

PITL #8 – The Shootout

Whether I was prepared or not, the last event of the series was going to be one to remember. I was excited to see a long time friend, who was going to be in town on his eastern Canada/US trip. The last we saw each other, he was doing a similar trip about 5 years ago. And back then I happened to be doing the same thing when he was in Ontario. What are the odds! I was keen to show him how much faster I’ve gotten after 5 years of slalom experience.

Friend Lucas getting to experience the 240Z.

Friend Lucas getting to experience the 240Z.

Of course, there would also be the inevitable shootout. And before that, the knockout round. I’d be lying if I wasn’t apprehensive about it. Lots of pressure there. The entire day leading up to it was nerve wracking. But the minute it was time to make it count. It was business time.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. It was freeeeeezing. Super cold. We could all see our breaths in the morning. It really isn’t often that we race in these conditions. As a result, the tires limited traction in the lower temperatures was catching a number of people out. Always remember, rubber gets harder when it gets colder. Harder rubber means less grip! It was pretty amazing to watch cars on race compound tires spin their cold rubber off the line finding far less traction that normal.

Cold weather brings out the funny hats.

Cold weather brings out the funny hats.

Thankfully my street tires weren’t affected quite to that degree. But there was less grip than normal. I couldn’t really tell how much on the first run as my power steering belt popped off immediately during the first run. Thankfully I was able to get that back on with the help of some of my competitors. With that back on I went looking for time.

Yup. I totally did it again. (Thanks for the pic Lucas!)

Yup. I totally did it again. (Thanks for the pic Lucas!)

There were 4 FRS/BRZ drivers this event. And I was determined to beat every one. I pushed pretty hard trying to catch them. Unfortunately due to the threat of rain, we called the event early with two runs to go and moved to the shootout. This ended the fight prematurely with me just behind the fastest BRZ. Which happened to be on non-stock wider and stickier rubber. Chasing the BRZ meant I worked all the way up the fourth overall. Which is dang fast for a stock Miata.

I'm going to have to get used to fighting these cars.

I’m going to have to get used to fighting these cars.

But with that cut short, it was time to crown the overall champion. This year, even more drivers were in the running for overall. So once again, there needed to be a knockout round. Last year, we ran the course, and the 3 people closes to their fastest time without going faster moved on. Last year I moved on, but lost in the actual shootout. This year was a bit different. The organizers modified the course in a few places. And without being able to walk it again, we were told to go back out in our own cars. The two drivers who get closest to their original time, or improved the most, would move on to the shootout. I went first. And matched my time to the tenth of a second. On my second run, I actually improved by over a second! This was enough to put me into the lead and keep me there while everyone had their second runs.

Running to the stop box.

Running to the stop box.

There were some rumors throughout the day as to what the shootout car would be. A popular thought was that since we’re sponsored by Scion, we would get an FR-S to use as the shootout car. Much like last year, where our sponsor was Scion, and we were given a Scion tC to race.

However, that was not the case. Instead, for some reason, one of the competitors showed up in their winter car. A RWD E30 BMW 325. In all seasons. That would be our championship deciding chariot. It was red. I suppose that helps. It did have an LSD. And a manual transmission. And those things really help. I’ll be going into more detail into how it drove in the next post. SPOILER: It was so much fun.

I won the coin toss, and as per normal with the winner of the coin toss, I made the other guy go first. Unfortunately for him, he hit a pylon. My turn. No cone! Decent time to boot. My competitor, to his credit, was pushing pretty hard. But through one of the turns he went wide hitting a cone. Handing me the win. Woah! PITL drivers champion! The owner of the BMW was OK with me taking my second run. So I went for a victory lap in the BMW. Sideways.

Powersliding is the best!

Powersliding is the best!

After the weather turned sour, a bunch of us decided the perfect end to the event, was a random sushi buffet that was near by. Much fun.

Absolutely rad day. Got to hang out with an old friend, have a sweet battle with the FR-S/BRZs, and won the drivers championship. Fantastic! But to be honest, even losing is ridiculous amounts of fun. PITLers are the funnest dudes to race with. On to next season!


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that day (Including my shootout runs) head over here.

I even got some time to do some filming!

PITL #7 – A glimpse of the future of A-Stock.

With the release of the new FRS/BRZ, the future of PITL A-Stock will have some exciting new competition. My Miata and I have had it pretty much our own way in A-Stock class. I’ve been class champion the past 4 years and securing the 5th consecutive championship last event. With the new FRS/BRZ, things are about to change that. And at this event, I got my first chance to size them up. A BRZ on non-standard wider Toyo R1Rs would not be easy to beat.

Stiff competition.

Stiff competition.

Like the last event, things started wet. But unlike the last event, it didn’t last long. It dried out quite quickly. It did stay fairly cool. Hurting most of the cars on R-comp tires. The sun did warm the track up some. And the speeds gradually rose all day. It was interesting to see the cornering speeds slowly creep up. Eventually I was running out of revs in places where I didn’t in the morning.

Slideways is the best way.

Slideways is the best way.

I felt like I was hitting my marks. Slowly progressing through the day. The only thing that bothered me was that my car was frequently in between gears. Making it hard to choose when to upshift. There were numerous sections where I would run out of gear with a tight corner only a few feet away. So if I did snatch second… It wouldn’t last long at all.

Everyone was having fun! Even passengers!

Everyone was having fun! Even passengers!

I managed to chase the BRZ all day. Lopping a good chunk of time off on my last run. I could have gone a bit faster. But not the 0.500 second faster needed to trounce the BRZ. So I conceded the defeat that day. On the plus side, pushing that hard all day, my stock Miata beat all the modified Miatas and finished 4th overall! Big result!

I even got some time to do some filming!

I even got some time to do some filming!

There are already murmurs of a few FRS/BRZ cars registering for the entire season next year. I hope to make it a proper scrap for championship points. Bring it on!


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that day, head over here.

Amazing what a few hours of sun can do!

PITL #6 – Wrapping it up. Just go faster.

This event proved to be an extremely interesting one. For starters, a grand buddy of mine was having his engagement party the night before, and I was definitely not going to miss that. But, that meant staying up way to late partying and random games before not sleeping on a bed. Waking up the next morning was not easy. Typically we would go out for a fantastic breakfast at Horizons the next morning. Not for me though. Because race car.

More like because monsoon. It was raining extremely hard the next morning. I shuffled out of my buddy’s Dad’s place before sun up to be greeted with buckets of nature’s own H2O. This of course made the extra long drive to the event not very relaxing at all.

Not the prettiest conditions. But they can be the funnest.

Not the prettiest conditions. But they can be the funnest.

The rain didn’t even let up once I arrived at the event. Everyone was just cowering in a train shelter hoping this ridiculous wind and water would go away. Lou, from AllAboutImports decided to let us use his massive cargovan for the day. Without it, the timing equipment surely would have perished in the harsh, not-electrical-friendly conditions.

Eventually the rain died down enough that we could start the event. The turnout was far less than normal. Which is expected, as the forecast was terrible.

Dark clouds can't stop the smiles.

Dark clouds can’t stop the smiles.

Why didn’t I skip it? If a competitor is able to win their class 5 times out of the 8 total events, they are eligible for the shootout at the end of the year. At the time of this event, I had 4 wins. And with the threat of new FRS/BRZ cars coming off the break in period, I knew I had to get my wins while I could.

And wouldn’t you know it, one of those cars decided to turn up for competition. On wider, non-stock wheels and tires. Uh oh…

Almost needed an oar.

Almost needed an oar.

I skipped breakfast with friends for this. I wasn’t going to take this lying down. Never admit defeat!

And so the back and forth began. During the morning I initially was disappointed that he was ahead of me. A friend of mine said he had the solution to all my problems. “Just go faster.” He said. Simple! My BRZ competitor was in a different run group. So as the day went on, the course dried up, and we traded fastest times to and fro. Unfortunately for him, having to run after his group every time, the conditions favored me. And I most definitely used that to my advantage.

Amazing what a few hours of sun can do!

Amazing what a few hours of sun can do!

Eventually, “It’s simple! Just go faster!” became the phrase of the day. Often shouted at me as I was about to stage. Thankfully I continued to do so run after run. I eventually went to fast for my power steering. Which decided in the middle of a run to throw it’s belt off in protest of my quickness. (In actuality the belt was probably wet and slipped off after a puddle splash) I ended up finding the belt intact sitting on the engine bay undertray.

With such small run groups, paddock time was tight, so I opted to run the last 2 runs without it. It took some getting used to, but it seemed to only affect me a bit during turn in as my arms would be used to far less resistance. Though it did mean I could feel the weight coming and going from the front tires. During turn in I’m often braking which puts a significant amount of weight on the front tires. And thus effort was significantly increased. What I wasn’t expecting was the sharp decrease in effort when transferring weight rearward. When the steering was powered, the difference between these two scenarios was much less pronounced. Did I like it? Not really. But I hear proper non-power steering cars (and properly de-powered cars) feel better than a car that has had the power steering system.

Thanks to the conditions favoring my run group, I was able to defeat the BRZ and wrap up my championship early. Making the trip completely worth it.

PITL A Class Champion! Bam!


Link to video

To see all the runs I recorded that day, head over here.